PHILIPPINE club football is set to begin once again with the return of the Philippines Football League for a third season.
The highly anticipated resumption of domestic action kicks off on Saturday, featuring the reigning cup and league champions in a doubleheader at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
Kaya FC-Iloilo takes on Green Archers United at 4 pm, with Ceres Negros and Stallion Laguna playing after at 7 pm.
Grandstand Tickets, good for both matches, will be available at the stadium for P50, while the match will also be live streamed over PFLTV.ph.
For 2019, the league will be made up of seven teams, including three new additions: Green Archers United, Mendiola FC 1991, and Philippine Air Force.
Kaya FC-Iloilo will be looking to improve from last years second place finish, while Ceres Negros are gunning for a third straight title.
Veteran clubs Stallion Laguna and newly named Global Makati round out the cast.
“We will have a double round, home and away format, which means we’ll have a total of 84 matches. Each club will have 24 games each – 12 away, and 12 which it will host,” explained newly named commissioner Coco Torre.
“Even though we’ve started a little closer to the middle of the year, we’ve plotted the fixtures and it’s still very manageable. The league will run until November 10, followed by the Copa Paulino Alcantara.”
Coming from a freshly concluded run in the AFC Cup, Kaya FC-Iloilo is particularly motivated to start the campaign quickly and begin the long road back to the continental stage.
“Scoring 17 goals in six matches, conceding only 7, and having seven different goal scorers, that really matters. For me, that’s a good result,” said Noel Marcaida of Kaya’s latest Asian campaign.
“We fell short. But we had the realization that we can do more. We really want to be back.”
There are two available roads to Asian football for the Iloilo side. One way is to retain the Copa Paulino Alcantara title that the club won last year.
But that tournament doesn’t start until November. Before anything, Kaya must first attempt to dethrone the reigning two-time PFL champions, Ceres Negros, recently ranked the top club in South East Asia.
“I’m happy that the number one club in South East Asia comes from the Philippines. That means we have the opportunity to play against the best of the region, and that’s exciting. It’s a great opportunity for our players to express themselves, to check their level, and to find what they still need to work on,” Marcaida said.
“Aside from the fitness and the 100% performance from the players in every game, what’s key in the league will be the consistency, both in games and in training. Preparation is very important in the success in our matches, so we need commitment and consistency from everyone.”
“The AFC Cup experience will help us,” added club captain Jovin Bedic. “For two seasons they’ve been the champions of the league. But we’re here – Kaya. I think we’re capable of beating them. We just need the right motivation, and the support of the people, especially if we get a chance to play in Iloilo.”
Kaya FC-Iloilo’s campaign begins with Green Archers United on Saturday, followed by a visit to Biñan on Wednesday, to face Stallion Laguna.
“Our mindset is to win of course. We’re coming from a loss in the AFC Cup, and now this is the start of a new league and what I hope will be the start of a new winning streak for Kaya,” said Bedic.